Early Infant Oral Care
When Do Children’s Teeth First Appear?
The primary teeth all begin formation in utero, usually between 14-19 weeks. At birth, all twenty primary teeth are already formed in the baby’s jaws, hidden in bone and soft tissue until time to erupt in the mouth. There are also the beginning buds of some permanent teeth. Eruption of these primary teeth can begin as early as 4 months, with all twenty appearing by the age 3.
When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?
Teething, or the eruption of primary (baby) teeth, can vary among individual babies. Some begin as early as 4 months, though it generally begins between 6-8 months. Teething usually begins with the central incisors (front), and is followed by the laterals, molars, canines, and second molars, with lower teeth erupting before the upper teeth.
Should I Be Concerned about Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use?
Sucking is a natural reflex among infants and children, though most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, or other objects on their own between ages 2 and 4. However, some children continue these habits over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may point towards the lip or not come in properly. The intensity of thumb sucking or sucking on pacifiers will determine the severity of dental problems. Resting the thumb or pacifier in the mouth will cause less severe problems than intense sucking.
Dr. Karsten carefully monitors your child’s teeth eruption and jaw development. Intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age to help prevent long-term problems.
For permanent teeth: find the lost tooth, if possible. Handle the tooth only by the crown, never by the root. If tooth is dirty, rinse only with water—DO NOT use soap or scrub the tooth. If possible, replace the tooth into the socket, and have the child hold the tooth in place by gently biting on a gauze pad or washcloth. If it is not possible to hold the tooth in place, place the tooth in a cup of milk or cool water. Go to the dentist immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth, and seeing a dentist within 30 minutes is best.
You can help your children break this habit by being positive and encouraging, praising them for not using the pacifier or sucking their thumb on occasions when they normally would. If such methods do not work, you can try placing a bandage or gauze around the thumb to make the child aware of their sucking habits. Your dentist can also help explain what will happen to the teeth and jaws if they do not stop.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
As soon as your child’s primary (baby) teeth appear they are at risk for decay. In infants and toddlers, this is commonly referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. It is often found in the upper front teeth, though other teeth can also be affected. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by frequent and long exposure to liquids containing sugar, such as milk, breast milk, formula, juice, or other sweetened drinks.
The risk of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay can be lowered by wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding. Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks. Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed. If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean – don’t dip it in sugar or honey, or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child. Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday and discourage frequent or prolonged use of a training (sippy) cup.
Once your child’s teeth have begun to erupt, brush them gently with a child’s size toothbrush and water. This will remove plaque and bits of food that can harm erupting teeth. Brush your child’s teeth until he or she is at least six years old. Encourage healthy eating habits that include a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes. Ensure that your child has adequate exposure to fluoride. Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist or pediatrician.